This morning we were off again, leaving Willamette Valley behind us and this time we were heading south. Yes, south! Not north towards Alaska but to the southern coastline of Oregon. We covered about 200 miles, despite all the rain, and arrived at our campsite about 1:30. We are staying at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park on Highway 101 in Reedsport, Oregon.
There is a story of how we got to where we are now. While in Idaho on our way to Oregon, we stopped at a rest stop to stretch our legs. Next to us was a UPS semi-truck pulling three tag along trailers (pretty common in this area). When I got out, the driver, Kevin, was admiring our states-visited map on the side of Land Wanderer and quickly gave me heck for not having put the Idaho sticker on yet. Kevin was a man about my age, full of questions about our rig and our trip. He has the same aspiration as us of traveling with a RV once he and his wife retires in a couple of years. We shared our travel plans to drive straight to Portland, stay a couple of days and then head into Washington state and spend a couple of weeks. He thought for a moment and then pointed to our map, the coast line of Oregon. He said this is some of the most beautiful area in Oregon. “If you want to see the best of Oregon, you need to travel highway 101 along the coast.” We went our separate ways and met again before leaving. “YOU WON’T REGRET TAKING HIGHWAY 101”.
What a difference a few degrees temperature drop makes. Under rainy skies and cooler temps, it’s a cold day for us along the coast. We dressed in layers and warmed up the Tacoma for an afternoon of exploring. Lot’s of folks out busily doing something with their ATV’s. This is the heart of Oregon Dunes, a forty-seven mile stretch of sand dunes running north and south along the coast. With all the engine noise roaring out within ear shot of the beach, it called us to investigate. Browsing around, we found out that there is a rally going on and much of the a-do was taken place right down the road. With the afternoon to spare, we figured we would just find a good spot and watch crazy people do crazy things. I was envious!
Umpqua Lighthouse is just a little ways away from our campsite. It is still an active lighthouse but it is now operated by the local county instead of the Coast
Guard. We’re told It’s days are numbered because of GPS technology but the local mariners still rely on it’s navigational beacon to enter the treacherous bay. It is visual for about 20 miles out to sea and the bay has a dangerous bar at it’s mouth. As we drove past, we notice the rotating lighthouse signature; two white, one red…. that’s the lighthouse signature in light code. No other lighthouse on the west coast has that code.
We met up with Jackie from Sitka Alaska. Her and her husband Carl are fellow RV’ers. Each winter and spring they volunteer at the lighthouse. With a key in hand, she invited us in and gave us a personal tour of the place. She is an old pro, having given many tours over the years and it was a delight to hear all about the workings and history of the place. Carl was exceptional too, he provided me with tons of valuable information to help us with our RV trip to the ‘last frontier’.
Our drive south on Highway 101 to Coos Bay lasted about an half hour. It was an old mill town, mostly dealing with lumber and wood back in it’s day but now it is mostly thriving on tourism. There is still a couple of sizable log yards with big Doug Fir logs along the downtown bay shore, it looks like there waiting to be loaded onto barges. Part of the old mill is now a casino and the log yard adds to the towns authentic mill look. From Coos Bay we drove on State Park Road to Charleston (Oregon), just a few miles west towards the coast. Once the road turned south along the coast, there were several State Parks that had some of the best rugged ocean views that I have ever seen. (I took over a 100 pictures, it was a great challenge to select what to post)
Our Overnight Stay:
We are staying at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park in Reedsport, Oregon. We have water, 30amp and sewer. We paid $29/night. We are in site 10 and this is one of the longest sites here but it barely fit our 40ft and Tacoma. The forest canopy blocks over-the-air TV reception and the cell service is only 3G. It has rained the whole time here and we were not able to get out and enjoy any trails. Next time in the area, this would not be our first choice.